The Overwatch League has brought a lot of surprises (after not even participating in the preseason, Philadelphia Fusion smoked the Houston Outlaws) and a lot of drama (xQc was not “active” for Dallas Fuel’s Jan. 19 match vs. London Spitfire for using homophobic slurs during a stream). But one of the most heart wrenching things I’ve seen from the first season so far is this apology from the Shanghai Dragons: An apology from the team manager on behalf of the team for sucking all season long.
For not winning a single match.
“I am here to offer my sincere apology to all the fans of Shanghai Dragons and Overwatch,” said the team manager, Van, in an official statement released on Twitter earlier today. “I am the first to blame and responsible for the less than stellar results. I am sorry to have disappointed all the players.”
While the Shanghai Dragons have not even come close to a single victory all season – having most recently fallen to the Los Angeles Gladiators – it seems the statement may have been released for a far darker reason.
It’s been speculated that the Shanghai Dragons have a very strict practice schedule (some sources even stating that the Dragons play for 15 hours a day), and rumors have been floating around that there may be corruption and player mistreatment. These allegations seemed to be addressed in the recent apology, when Van stated: “With a reasonable amount of training time ensured, the management team has also developed plans regarding life issues, for the well-being and health concern of our players, both physically and mentally.”
These plans include English lessons relating to Overwatch, team building exercises and “mental assistance.”
Van continues: “We […] hope that you will acknowledge the existence of rumors that are simply not true. We also recognized that there is a lack of time for physical exercise and entertainment in our current training schedule. However, we are planning them and we will share with you when more news is available.”
While the rumors may be just that (or just exaggerated truths), it’s no surprise that a team from China is taking their roles and results very seriously.
In a recent article discussing three men from China who died from exhaustion, it was stated that over 600,000 Chinese citizens died from overwork in 2014. That’s about 1,600 deaths every day. Overtime in China (and other countries known for overworked employees like Japan) is a big culprit of these deaths, as is pressure to perform at a very high level.
Between April and June this year, at least 10 journalists or editors were reported dead. Their average age was 41.
One of them, Mr Jin Bo – an associate editor of a popular online message board similar to Reddit – died an hour after collapsing at a subway station in Beijing in June.
His friends and family members told the Beijing Times that the 34-year-old was in good health, but he was often up very late, working.
China not only values hard work, but they take a lot of pride in what they do. This is very apparent in Shanghai Dragon’s apology to their fans. You can feel the embarrassment oozing in every line. The blatant shame in their failure is almost physically painful to read.
For a country that’s so big on esports (their share of the esports market is 15%, only second to the US at a 37% share), it must be more than disheartening to lose to other teams again and again and again.
But at least they’re not letting anybody down it seems.
In ESPN’s power rankings, Shanghai Dragons were rated the lowest team in the League before the first season even began:
Weida “Diya” Lu is world-class. That’s the only good thing I really have to say about the Dragons. The team was flat in the preseason, and I don’t know how much Shanghai can improve during the course of the regular season. The team’s starting support duo is the weakest in the league, and regardless of how many headshots Diya can get, it won’t matter if the rest of the team can’t protect or help him out. China has the largest pool of players to choose from in the world, and the Dragons might need to do just that if it wants to think about playoffs in the first season of Overwatch League.
It honestly appears as though the Dragons have many great individual players, but no overall strategy or unity. Undead skillfully took down heavy hitter fan favorites Danteh and Babybay in Shanghai’s match against San Francisco Shock on Jan. 12, but ultimately the match was highly favoring Shock and the Dragons lost terribly.
It’s been excruciating to watch.
These amazing moments are overshadowed by the team’s apparent exhaustion and lack of direction and inspiration.
Still, die-hard Shanghai Dragons fans have continued to offer words of encouragement to the team, despite their poor overall performances.
Here’s to hoping the Shanghai Dragons’ new strategy (of having some fun once in a while and tending to the team’s mental and emotional needs) pays off in their later matches this season. #FightingForGlory
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